TBR Challenge Review: Matthew by Emma Lang

Format: Trade Paperback
Pub Date: February 2012
Publisher: Brava (Kensington)
Length: 254 pages
FTC: received free from author/pub at RT 2012

I feel like an awful person because I don't like westerns. Sorry, Wendy :(  I just...don't. But since I've been MIA the last few months from the challenge, I decided I was going to stick with this month's theme even if it killed me. Which it came close to doing.

The only westerns I have are ones from the RT conventions. In 2012, they had several western events including a signing and a Western themed Samhain party. Knowing I had those books in my TBR pile somewhere, I went hunting. I managed to find a historical western. With some spice. I didn't think they existed anymore.

The story begins with a tragedy: the murder of the Graham parents and the disappearance of the youngest boy of the family. Matthew Graham, in his mid-twenties, steps in to help keep the ranch going and to pursue a land grant from the Republic of Texas. The only problem? To lay claim to the land, Matthew has to have a wife. And while fibbing to the official about his martial status, he invents a name for his fictitious wife: Hannah.  Now Matthew has 30 days to find a wife named Hannah, or he'll lose the family's grant.

Yes. I can hear your eyes rolling from here.

Guess who he finds? An unwed, plain, spinster-ish orphan named Hannah. And he manages to propose to her almost immediately after he meets her. And she accepts! And there's a zing of attraction despite her plain appearance!

I think I'm too jaded to read this book. It might have worked for me years ago at the beginning of my romance reading journey, but it really doesn't work for me now.  The dialogue is cheesy, the plot is pretty darn unbelievable, and "mystery" crammed in here felt way too forced. And don't get me started on the horse metaphors.

The biggest sin, though, was the utter lack of setting. This is a ranch in Texas. There's next to no descriptions of the ranch, the landscape, anything. Lots of horse detail, but very little time spent on the land that is supposed to be so central to these characters. But hey, we get three (or more?) scenes with turnips!

The love story is superficial, but sweet, and the sex scenes were a little jarring given how subdued the rest of the book is. There's nothing out of the ordinary here, but it may work for someone who actually likes westerns and isn't as picky.

My Grade: C-/D+

The Blurb:

In the wake of his parents' murder, Matthew Graham must take the reins at the Circle Eight - a vast spread in the eastern wilds of the newly independent Republic of Texas. He also needs to find a wife in just thirty days, or risk losing it all. Plain but practical, Hannah Foley seems the perfect bride for him...until after the wedding night. Their marriage may make all the sense in the world, but neither one anticipates the jealousies that will result, the treacherous danger they're walking into, or the wildfire of attraction that will sweep over them, changing their lives forever...


  1. I may have this one. Maybe? Emma Lang is another name for Beth Williamson, and I keep meaning to give Williamson another shot because I know so many readers who lurve her books (I've read one and had a ho-hum reaction to it). So yeah, I keep meaning to give her another shot - see how it goes. But horse metaphors? If he calls the heroine his "filly" I am so not going there.....

    1. LMAO. No "filly" but lots of letting "reins go" ala Stephanie Laurens.